Google Is Building An EHR Tool: What To Know

By Kayla Matthews, freelance journalist, Productivity Bytes.

Although Google first gained prominence as a search engine, it quickly moved into other sectors, like smart home tech and cloud computing. One of the latest projects associated with the brand relates to health care, or, more specifically, electronic health records (EHR).

In early 2019, rumors began circulating about Google’s plans to develop an EHR tool. In late November, the company confirmed with an official blog post discussing the project. It centered on the challenges associated with health data, such as the variety of formats and number of people contributing to files.

Accessible Health Records

In the blog entry, Dr. David Feinberg, the head of health, claims the Google EHR solution will put all health records into a single, search-friendly database. This setup will reduce the time providers spend hunting for information.

A product video accompanying the post featured Dr. Alvin Rajkomar, a product manager and practicing physician. He discussed how providers spend half their days working with EHR interfaces and often need to log into several systems to acquire necessary materials. While Google’s product is still in the pilot phase, it’s available for widespread clinical use.

The video demonstrates how the Google EHR tool offers all patient information needed in one place. For example, a doctor can see data about a patient’s primary complaint, plus the results of lab work, without switching between tools. Users can simply switch between tabs, much like on an internet browser, to see different information.

A search box at the top allows people to use natural-language queries and find what they need. The system also handles potentially misspelled words, similar to searching for something on Google.

Context to Patient Information 

The Google EHR tool gives authorized users access to data via tables and charts, allowing them to see how a patient’s condition changes over time. When users import data from another location, it’s highlighted grey to differentiate it. Simply hover the cursor to see the original source.

A Way to Prevent Mistakes

Errors in electronic medical records can lead to mistakes that range from annoying to life-threatening. However, Google borrowed a feature from Gmail, Smart Compose, to promote extreme accuracy.

The tool offers auto-fill suggestions people can select as they type. For example, as you begin to type a medication name, the system will pull up automatic and relevant recommendations.

How Will Google EHR Affect Existing Technology?

Google intends to enter a market with many well-established EHR providers. Some of them are extremely specific, such as those for behavioral and mental health care, allowing users to search for complementary services within a community. If a person needs emergency shelter or rehabilitation for substance abuse, the EHR can find available options.

It’s too early to say how Google’s product will affect existing solutions. However, early information seems to suggest it will integrate with rather than replace them.

How Will This Development Impact Providers?

In his blog post, Dr. Feinberg mentioned that Ascension Health would be the first brand to test the EHR product. Another post published by Google clarified the nature of that partnership. Early reports could be crucial for determining the overall effect on physicians and care providers.

In a study where healthcare professionals compared the product usability of EHR systems to everyday activities — like using Microsoft Word, getting money from a cash machine or doing a Google search — EHR products ranked lowest. A Google search, on the other hand, is the most user-friendly task, which could bode well for the future of the brand’s product.

Other research shows a correlation between physician dissatisfaction and the data entry tasks EHR tools require. Since Google’s product tries to cut down on the amount of typing users do, it could make them feel less frustrated.

The Google EHR Tool — A Simple Process for Adequate Care

Google intends to reduce the obstacles providers encounter when looking for or adding information about patients. It’ll be interesting to see how efforts to achieve that goal pan out.

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